The phone bill…

This is part 2 of my story for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  You can find part one here.  Some of these details I remember very well, while others I am drawing directly from the police report account of that day.

Some time passed, around 4 months if I remember correctly.   I found myself in the same place as I had been before the “incident”.  Our relationship had not improved despite a lot of empty promises.  He hadn’t been violent with me again but I was always on guard.   He had gotten fired from  his job, again. He had decided to start a business with his brother but didn’t bother telling me any of this of course.  I only found out when I called his office looking for him one day and the receptionist informed me he hadn’t worked there in over a month.  I just couldn’t do it anymore and so I took my daughter and went to stay with one of my best friends and her husband for a while.  I can’t tell you how long we stayed there, a couple of months maybe.  They were wonderful with her and we felt like family.  I will never forget all they did for me and all the encouragement they provided.  At one point, I tried going back home but there just didn’t seem to be much going back.  I wanted to file for divorce officially but I was scared, confused, and didn’t have the funds to do so.  He had moved out of our home and into a small apartment and we tried to have a semi-amicable relationship for the sake of our daughter.

Within a few months of moving out, I began seeing someone.  Yes, it was too soon.  Yes, I was still legally married.  Yes, I know it was a bad move.  Long story short, he was a friend of a friend.  He was polar opposite of my ex husband and was just kind to me ALL the time.  He was what I needed at the time and I’m still very close to his family to this day!  If you’re in this situation, finish closing one door before opening another.  For me though, I needed to feel wanted and needed again.  I wasn’t uber secretive about this new friend and naturally it was a tense subject between my soon-to-be ex husband and I.  He began to threaten to use the relationship to attempt to take my daughter away from me.  Naturally, I backed away from the relationship but that didn’t stop him from trying to “dig”.  One day, he had my daughter napping at his apartment.    When I arrived she was still napping and he asked me if I would take his truck down the street and get him something to eat.  I obliged.  Upon arriving back at the apartment with his food, I observed a notebook in the passenger seat and inside found my phone records, photos of me with my friends, myspace posts he had printed, etc.  I was so angry at this violation of privacy that I removed the whole file from the truck, and tossed it in the large dumpster in the parking lot.   After dropping off his food, I collected my daughter and went to the parking lot to leave, he followed behind and promptly noticed the missing documents from his truck.  He immediately became enraged and violent.  While I held my daughter (who was about 18 months old at the time), he got in my face yelling at me.  He called me a whore and a whole bunch of other names.  He demanded I crawl into the dumpster and retrieve the documents.  When I refused, he shoved me, baby in arms, into the dumpster at which point I stumbled and dropped my purse.  He immediately grabbed my purse with my wallet, phone, and keys, threw it into his truck and drove off.  I was shaken up and without my purse, I had no choice but to walk to the nearest local business (blockbuster) to use the phone.  I called my parents to come get me and I’m not sure whether they called the police, if I did, or the sweet blockbuster employees who comforted a crying hysterical young woman and her baby.  Either way, once my parents arrived, my ex was not far behind.  He drove up beside their van and began yelling and causing problems.  My mother than drove her van down a side street with him in pursuit.  He sped up beside her yelling for her to pull over and then made a sharp turn blocking her in causing her to stop abruptly.  According to the report, my mother feared she would ram into his truck.  From there, he parked in the middle of the road, got out of the truck and began screaming and pounding the hood of her van.  He yelled demanding we get out of the van and when we refused he punched and broke the sideview mirror off.  I was shaking terrified and I know my mother was also scared because there was no telling what he was capable of.  At this point, the police arrived and he promptly returned to his apartment.  According to the documents, after taking a statement from us and a statement from him, they arrested him for family violence and criminal mischief.  I’m so thankful that he didn’t hurt me worse than the red finger marks the police reported on my left arm.  But I’m more so thankful that he didn’t hurt my daughter or my parents in his rage.  This wasn’t a terrible altercation but it was significant because it was the first time my family got to see this side of him first hand.  Until this point, I imagine it was difficult to grasp how someone so funny and “nice” could be capable of violence.

To be continued…

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He hit me…

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Did you know October is Domestic Violence Awareness month?  Yeah, I didn’t either, it clearly doesn’t get enough attention!  I feel a little nauseous with what I’m about to share with you.  This is not something I’ve talked about much in depth with anyone, even my own family.  As most of you may know, this is my second marriage.  What some of you may not know is that I am a domestic violence survivor.  There, yeah, I said that, out loud.  Feeling completely vulnerable right now because I’ve never considered myself to be a “victim” or a “survivor” of any sort.  That makes me sound heroic or something and I definitely do not feel heroic!  As I cleaned an old file cabinet drawer this month, I stumbled upon a large file containing numerous court documents and police reports.   I sobbed uncontrollably as I read through as I had forgotten (or tried to forget rather) the details that these reports contained.  In an attempt to raise more awareness on the matter, I’m going to be sharing parts of these stories with you this month.

I’ll start with a little backstory:  I married my high school sweetheart at a very young age (19 to be exact).  He was handsome and funny and could always make me laugh.  He was not without flaw and I knew that from the get go.  Honesty was never a strong quality he possessed and this was often a problem for us even throughout the dating and engagement years.  I knew he had been involved in several physical altercations with schoolmates throughout the years (prior to me really) but what young man hasn’t?  He was never violent with me, in fact, throughout our 3 years of dating/engagement, I only saw him remotely violent or agitated once.  Marriage, as you know, at any age, is difficult.  Ours was no different.  We were still struggling to find ourselves, we were growing up together, and dealing with very adult things like BILLS and jobs.  After a year of marriage, I found myself expecting.  He was less than thrilled and demanded that I have an abortion.  I refused and said I would raise the baby alone if I had to.  He knew there was no changing my mind and all I really ever wanted to be was a mother.  Our relationship was strained from then on.  Although he eventually came around and embraced the pregnancy and seemingly loved our daughter very much, our relationship never recovered.  Raising a baby with a man who initially wasn’t sold on fatherhood was difficult enough, raising a baby with a man who could barely hold a job was downright torturous.  We tried to make it work but no matter how hard tried, our resentment for one another only grew.  It seemed we were more roommates sharing a child than a newly married young couple.  We rarely spoke, we fought often, and rarely agreed on anything.  I was 22 years old with a 1 year old child when I began to drink.  Not heavily, not daily, not around my child but enough to contribute to our already mounting problems.  It became an escape for me.  I began going out a couple of times a week with friends.  At first I would invite him along because I desperately wanted to have fun with him.  We rarely had fun together though and I told myself i needed time away from him and the baby to unwind.  I would stay with her all day long, bathe her, feed her, and put her in bed and then I would be off to the bowling alley or our favorite local mexican food restaurant for fun and drinks.  I will never forget the first time he hit me.  Sights and sounds from that night will forever haunt me.  They are etched in my brain permanently.

It was a Thursday night and we had plans to go to a friend’s house for game night.  They were a young married couple too and lots of fun.  My mother was planning to keep the baby that evening and when he came home from work I was excited to go but he was in a terrible mood.  At the last minute he decided he didn’t want to go.  I decided I would go anyway because the thought of being cooped up with someone in a terrible mood all night sounded dreadful.  He wasn’t happy about it.  I don’t know exactly what led up to this point but I remember arguing with him for hours.  Literally, hours.  I was bringing up past issues, he was being unbearable, it was undoubtably tense.  In attempts to diffuse the situation, I turned my back to him and began to walk from the front of the house to our bedroom in the back of the house.  As I neared our daughter’s bedroom down the hall, he rushed up behind me and grabbed my hair.  He threw me to the ground and then sat on top of me.  He slapped my face repeatedly and yelled at me.  He had a crazed look in his eye I’m not sure I had ever seen before.  Pink flip phone in hand, I tried to wrestle him off of me unsuccessfully and dialed 911 with my unrestrained hand.  As soon as he realized what I was doing, he grabbed the phone from my hands, ripped it in half,  and threw the pieces to his right.  It happened to hit and crack the window to my daughter’s room.  I told him I wanted my mother.  I begged for him to let me take my daughter and go to my mother’s house.  He lifted me off the ground by my hair and swiped my daughter up in his free arm. She was crying all the while.  Not crying, screaming bloody murder.  I was also crying hysterically.  We were both absolutely terrified.  He put her in the backseat and threw me in the passenger seat slamming the door behind him and than began to drive. I thought about getting out and running but I couldn’t leave HER.   He yelled at me the whole way.  He said terrible things  to me like “I should drive you out to the middle of nowhere and kill you”.  I wanted so desperately  to remain calm for my child but regaining my composure at this stage proved to be difficult.  He drove for what seemed like an eternity and eventually pulled up to my parent’s house.  My father was out of town and it was very late.  Probably about 1 a.m.  I rang the doorbell still crying, holding my daughter while he still had his hand tightly clasped to me left arm.  My mother answered the door confused and half asleep.  I remember blurting out “he hit me” in between sobs and her quickly ushering us inside.  He left.  She grabbed the phone and said she was calling the police.  I urged her not to.  I was confused and scared.  We never called the police that night.  Something that the both of us will probably always regret.  The next day he was back with flowers, gifts, tears, and seemingly sincere apologies.  He was under a lot of stress I told myself.  Being a husband and father in your early 20’s can certainly take a toll on anyone.  So we went back home with him with a solid promise it would never happen again.  Only… it did.

 

to be continued…

What if I don’t want to be a proverbs 31 wife today?!?!

Proverbs 31:10-31 (NIV)

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Ladies, not a single one of us hoped on board the marriage and mommy train without good intentions.  If we were raised in the church, we probably knew a thing or two about Proverbs 31.  We wanted to be Proverbs 31 wives.  Or I mean, at least I did.  “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her”, I mean, who wouldn’t want that right?  What I didn’t realize was how exhausting achieving Proverbs 31 wife status truly is!  It’s funny, because the chapter is brutally honest about the work it entails but it flows so beautifully that I pretty much only focused on the end part where my kids and my husband were going to think I was the bomb.com and love me and praise me and all that good stuff all the time!

The thing is, 99.99% of the time I’m the first one awake in the morning and the last one in bed at night.  I don’t always make super terrific decisions because I have TOO MANY decisions to make daily!  Where everyone needs to be and when, immunize my kids, don’t immunize my kids, buy organic, dairy is good, no, it’s really not, what should I put in their lunchbox?  I open my arms to the poor, the wealthy, and everyone in between.  So much so that I have nothing left for myself most days.  I’m literally doing something for someone else daily.  I don’t always speak with wisdom.  Sometimes I speak downright foolish things.  Idle time?  What is that?!?!?  My kids, they don’t always “arise and call me blessed”, my husband rarely “praises me”.  Often my job is a thankless one.  I don’t feel like I’m surpassing anyone or that I’m being honored by a single soul.  That’s all okay, I don’t need recognition or a pat on the back very often.  I do these things proudly and joyfully (most of the time). But somedays, SOME DAYS, I don’t want to be a Proverbs 31 wife, I don’t want to wake up before everyone else or stay up once everyone has gone to sleep because there’s still much to be done.  Sometimes, I want some idle time.  I think I deserve some idle time dangit!

The problem is, we’ve put so much pressure on ourselves to be the Proverbs 31 wife by taking care of everyone else that we completely neglect ourselves.  You’re not going to be perfect, ever.  You can’t do it ALL, everyday.  It’s okay to sit down and prop your feet up sometimes.  It’s totally okay for your husband to toss in a load of laundry or cook a meal occasionally.  It’s okay to go through the drive through because you don’t feel like cooking!  It’s okay to sleep in sometimes.  You may not be the perfect wife and mother that you envisioned you would be, but you rock!  You may not get a lot of public recognition for your efforts from your husband or children but, I assure you, they appreciate all you do for them.  Take some time for you today if you just don’t feel like being a P31 wife.  Go get your nails done ladies, take a load off!  ❤

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You can print this little design I created for my nightstand here: proverbs 31 printable